Fox News figures seized on Warren Buffett's comment that "people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes" to attack him and other millionaires who support ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Fox has repeatedly defended the tax cuts for the wealthy and has accused Democrats of engaging in "class warfare" for wanting to return the top two income tax rates to 2000 levels.
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Millionaires, including Warren Buffett, call for expiration of Bush tax cuts for wealthy
Buffett: "[P]eople at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes." During an interview with ABC News, Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, expressed support for ending the Bush-era tax cuts for households making more than $250,000. Buffett stated, "I think that people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it." Buffett also addressed the claim that the wealthy "energize business and capitalism," saying: "The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on."
"Patriotic Millionaires": "During our nation's moment of need, we are eager to do our fair share." In a letter addressed to President Obama, several Americans, "who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more," wrote to urge Obama to "stand firm against those who would put politics ahead of their country." The letter stated: "For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you allow tax cuts on incomes over $1,000,000 to expire at the end of this year as scheduled." It continued:
We have done very well over the last several years. Now, during our nation's moment of need, we are eager to do our fair share. We don't need more tax cuts, and we understand that cutting our taxes will increase the deficit and the debt burden carried by other taxpayers. The country needs to meet its financial obligations in a just and responsible way.
Letting tax cuts for incomes over $1,000,000 expire, is an important step in that direction.
Fox figures attack Buffett, "Patriotic Millionaires" campaign
Neil Cavuto's "common sense" on "Patriotic Millionaires": "Quit lecturing." During his "Common Sense" segment on his Fox News show, Neil Cavuto slammed the "Patriotic Millionaires" campaign for wanting "to get creamed by Washington," telling Buffett and the other millionaires to "quit speaking" for the nation's top 2 percent of earners. He added: "And while you're at it, quit speaking for even millionaires now. Maybe they're against paying more now, not because they can't afford to, but because they simply don't want to." Cavuto concluded: "Quit lecturing."
From the November 22 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
CAVUTO: Warren Buffett feels guilty. Ben, of Ben and Jerry's, well, he feels guilty. Moby, the music mogul, he feels guilty. They all feel guilty. And you know why? They all want to pay more in taxes, that's why. And it is eating away at them like a dripping Chubby Hubby. You see, they want to get creamed by Washington. Warren, of course, has always said that, but a bunch of these others, 45 millionaires strong, dashing off a letter to President Obama all but demanding that: Hike our taxes now.
And I'm reading their letter and it suddenly hit me like a double scoop of Chunky Monkey right to the chin: Why write a letter when you could all just write a check? Why wait for your answer, guys? Pay more now, guys. Don't put it off. Sign it, right now.
But for goodness sake, quit speaking for all those 2 per centers right now, especially the ones nowhere near what any of you are making now. And while you're at it, quit speaking for even millionaires now. Maybe they're against paying more now, not because they can't afford to, but because they simply don't want to.
CAVUTO: You pay more for the cone. They're already feeling double-scooped as it is. So, get crackin'. Get giving, but for God's sake, you 45 millionaires and Warren Buffett, who I love dearly, quit lecturing.
O'Reilly to Buffett: "Stop hawking me." After airing Buffett's ABC comments, Bill O'Reilly replied: "Well, go ahead, Warren. Nobody's stopping you. Make a big donation." He stated, "I don't want to be paying 50 percent to the federal government because I believe they waste an enormous amount of money" and claimed that "the more money and the more spending you give them, the more they control people's lives." He added: "So, people get dependent -- it's like heroin -- on the federal government for their livelihood. And I don't want to be into that. If Warren wants to kick more money in, kick it in, Warren. Stop hawking me."
Stossel: "It doesn't help" for the rich to pay more. Appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor John Stossel asserted that it "doesn't help" for the top earners to pay more taxes, adding that Buffett could give it to the Treasury but has chosen to give money to charity instead. Stossel added: "Wisely, people know giving it to charity is a better use of the money." Stossel also advocated for making up some of the deficit by cutting the Education Department, and concluded: "Money in private hands does far more good for the world and for Americans than money in government hands."
Carlson: "This is a form of moral preening. It's his way of saying, 'I'm better than you.' " On Fox News' On the Record, Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson said Buffett could pay more taxes "if he wanted to." Carlson continued: "Warren Buffett, like every person in business, employs an entire army of accountants whose only job it is to minimize the amount of taxes he pays. ... He could fire every accountant at Berkshire Hathaway tomorrow, if he wanted, and send 80 percent of his income to the federal government. And he should. 'You, first': that's what I say to Warren Buffett." Carlson then accused Buffett of "moral preening," saying his comments are a "way of saying, 'I'm better than you. I'm not your average greedy rich guy.' " Carlson concluded: "This is the second-richest man in the world. He says he wants to give away 99 percent of his wealth. ... He can do it right tonight, but instead of doing that, he would rather take out full-page ads in newspapers lecturing the rest of us that we don't pay enough in taxes. It's an outrage."
Carlson: Giving money to government "is the least efficient thing you could ever do." During the same segment, Carlson further claimed that Buffett "knows perfectly well" that giving money to government "is the least efficient thing you could ever do with the money" if you wanted to help society. "That's why Warren Buffett, in fact, isn't paying extra taxes. He's turning his money away to non-profits." Carlson added: "He's not giving it to the federal government because he knows they waste a heck of a lot of" money.
Van Susteren: It's "appalling" to tell the rich "to pay their fair share. ... It was designed to create class warfare." On her Fox News show, Greta Van Susteren also criticized Buffett, saying, "I always thought it was sort of appalling when they said to the rich, 'the rich need to pay their fair share,' as though they weren't paying their fair share -- although maybe Warren Buffett isn't paying his fair share -- that it was designed to create class warfare. I actually think a lot of rich people would be willing to help out, whether it's in the charities or whatever, if they're asked, instead of being called cheats."
Huckabee: Millionaires should "write the biggest check that will make you feel less guilty." Asked about Buffett's comments on the November 22 edition of ABC's The View, Fox News host Mike Huckabee said, "Here's what I say to them: If you want to pay more in taxes, there's not a law in the United States that keeps you from doing that. Write a check. Write the biggest check that makes you feel less guilty, but don't impose." He added, "If Warren Buffett wants to give his last dime to the federal government and thinks they'll spend it better than he will, let him do it. But most people who work really, really hard for their money believe that they will spend that money better than the federal government will spend it, because they watch what the federal government does with it, and they have no confidence in them."
Buffett is right: Extending high-end tax cuts would increase the debt without boosting the economy
CBO: Extending tax cuts "does not create much incentive ... to hire more workers." Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Douglas Elmendorf stated in his written testimony that "[d]eferring the scheduled increases in tax rates in 2011 would help some businesses" but that "increasing the after-tax income of businesses typically does not create much incentive for them to hire more workers in order to produce more, because production depends principally on their ability to sell their products."
Reuters: "Economists of all stripes agree high earners are less likely to spend extra cash than less well-off peers." In an August 17 "Factbox," Reuters reported that the CBO and economists like Mark Zandi, who advised John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, believe tax cuts for the rich are less stimulative than those for less wealthy individuals:
CBO: Allowing Bush tax cuts for the top brackets to expire is "more cost-effective" than extending all of the cuts. In January 2010, the nonpartisan CBO released a report estimating the economic effects of several policy options, including extending all of the Bush tax cuts for one year. CBO found that the tax cuts would boost GDP by between 10 cents and 40 cents per dollar spent, providing the smallest amount of stimulus of all the policy options considered.
In the report, CBO stated that extending most of the Bush tax cuts for one year but allowing the cuts for the top brackets to expire would "cost less than would deferring all of the scheduled tax increases, and it would be more cost-effective because the higher-income households that would be excluded would probably save a larger fraction of their increase in after-tax income." However, CBO said the difference "would be small."
Top earners would still gain from Dems' tax cut proposal
GOP Congress, Bush mandated that the tax cuts would expire after 2010. With the exception of changes to the estate tax, the 2001 tax bill states: "All provisions of, and amendments made by, this Act shall not apply ... to taxable, plan, or limitation years beginning after December 31, 2010." The 2001 tax bill passed the House and Senate with near-unanimous Republican support. The 2003 tax bill -- which also passed both houses with near-unanimous Republican support -- incorporated the sunset provisions from the 2001 tax bill.
Wash. Post: Sunsets allowed GOP to "boost the size of the tax cut" while "hiding its true cost" and getting Dem support. In a May 27, 2001, article, The Washington Post reported: "By terminating the tax cuts at the end of 2010, negotiators were able to avoid some tough decisions. Since they could now distribute the same amount of money over nine years rather than 10 years, they effectively boosted the size of the tax cut while at the same time hiding its true cost." The Post reported in a May 24, 2003, article that "by 'sunsetting' all the tax cuts well before the bill's official 2013 expiration date, congressional tax writers took a measure that otherwise would have cost the Treasury more than $800 billion over the next decade and crammed it into a $350 billion price tag that could garner just enough support to pass the Senate. Democrats and Republicans alike predict that future Congresses and administrations will not let the tax cuts expire."
Wealthy taxpayers would still have lower taxes under Obama plan than if all the cuts expired as scheduled. The Times reported that according to a Joint Committee on Taxation analysis, taxpayers with income over $250,000 would have a higher top tax rate, but would still benefit from the other "four lower rates on up to the first $250,000 of their income." For instance, "Filers with taxable income of $500,000 to $1 million would still get on average a tax cut of $6,700 compared with pre-2001 rates, according to the data from the tax analysts. But that compares with roughly $17,500 if the top Bush tax rates were maintained."
A graphic created by The Washington Post shows the average tax cut for taxpayers at each income level under the Democrats' plan "which extends cuts only for families making less than $250,000 a year," and the Republicans' proposal to extend all cuts:
Fox has repeatedly defended tax cuts for the wealthy
Payne calls extending tax cuts for those making less than $250K "politics of envy." On the November 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox Business' Charles Payne criticized Sen. Harry Reid for calling for a vote on the Bush tax cuts, saying the Democrats' proposal was an example of "politics of envy." Payne called the proposal "divisive," saying it "pit one part of America versus the other." He later added: "It's nuts. It really is nuts. And it's unfair, and it's stupid, and it's divisive, and that's -- and it's ripping this country apart. It's politics of envy, pure and simple."
Bolling on cost of Bush tax cuts for wealthy: $700 billion over 10 years is "not a lot of money." On the November 9 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox Business' Eric Bolling admitted that extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would cost $700 billion over 10 years, but said "it's not a lot of money," adding, "These are the job creators who would be getting these tax cuts." Bolling had previously said that the United States would "go further into debt" if we "let the tax cuts expire."
Stossel: The "takers" are "mad that some people are rich" and will "suck the life out of America." On the October 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Stossel discussed a new special on his program that would look at "the battle between the makers and the takers," saying that "you get to a certain point where if Peter can get the government to take from Paul, and there are more Peters, Peter's gonna vote for that, and that sucks the life out of America. So, we're at a tipping point." He then claimed that the "takers" "feel entitled and they're mad that some people are rich and they're not getting their share, and their route is through government."
Doocy called rolling back tax cuts for the rich a "great big economic experiment." On the October 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy asserted that "the argument is" that the wealthy, "those are the people, the most successful people, who hire the people, and is, during a big recession, the time to be raising taxes on everybody?" When guest Deidre Hall pointed out that the wealthy are "not hiring people" and "it's not trickling down," Doocy replied: "Is this the time, though, Deidre, for us to be doing a great big economic experiment?"
Kilmeade: "If you're making $250,000, you are not 'very rich.' " On the September 13 edition of Fox & Friends, discussing polls showing that Americans favor extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, co-host Brian Kilmeade stated: "If the administration is looking at these polls, and Republicans are looking at these polls, and they see the majority of the country, including most independents, don't mind seeing those tax cuts evaporate for the so-called 'very rich' -- if you're making $250,000, you are not 'very rich.' " He then asked if the wealthy could argue that if they were allowed to keep more of their own money, that it would mean more jobs for the middle class.
Varney: Rate at which wealthy are taxed is "not moral." On the September 10 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney asserted that it's "flat-out wrong" that "we can't afford to extend these tax cuts to the rich and if you do, if you let them keep more of their money, they won't spend it. They won't stimulate the economy." He later asked: "Is it moral to take more than half of anybody's income? 'Cause that's what we're doing right now. ... I maintain that is not moral and it's un-American."
Kilmeade replied: Taxing the wealthy "robs you of your ambition." On the September 10 Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said of ending the tax cuts: "On some level, it robs you of your ambition and your push and your drive." He then asked: "Why am I just gonna pay somebody else for my success?"
Fox has previously accused Dems of engaging in "class warfare"
For Hannity, not extending Bush tax cuts for top-earners still means one thing: "class warfare." On the November 17 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated: "The question is: The Bush tax cuts are gonna expire in January. ... Do they stay with this class warfare battle that they've been pushing?" Republican strategist Nicolle Wallace replied: "The Democrats have run national campaigns on class warfare, and it didn't work. It's failed in every corner of the United States, so if this is what the White House and their axis of out-of-the-mainstream policies -- if this is what they want to run, they're gonna set Republicans up in a much stronger position for 2012."
Cavuto: "Folks are rising up" against this "class warfare crap." On his November 7 show, Cavuto reported on a defeated measure in Washington state that would have imposed an income tax on the state's wealthy, saying that the measure was an indication of a "government that keeps trying to pit us against each other." He stated: "I'm told fewer than 3 percent [of the state's residents make more than $200,000], yet, 65 percent of all voters said, 'This is stupid.' And they nixed it. Clearly, they're not all rich, but, clearly, they're finding all of this 'gouge the rich' getting rich. ... Folks are rising up and saying, enough with this class warfare crap. We're not at war with each other; we're at war with the government that keeps trying to pit us against each other."
Beck: Dems position on Bush tax cuts is "the same old class warfare." On his October 5 Fox News show, Glenn Beck falsely asserted that "extending the Bush tax cuts costs nothing extra" and claimed that the Democrats' proposal "is the same old class warfare, and it is a lie." He continued: "They have no problem putting up their top economic adviser telling you that your money is theirs -- that you have no right to it." However, economists have said that extending tax cuts for the wealthy would increase the deficit while doing little to stimulate the economy.
Krauthammer: Expiration of tax cuts for the wealthy is a "desperate attempt" at "creating an issue of class war." On the September 14 edition of Special Report, panelist Charles Krauthammer claimed that extending the Bush tax cuts for wealthy earners is "a desperate attempt by Democrats in a terrible economy where they have no arguments about how they have improved it of creating an issue of class war." Krauthammer added: "Some people will respond on the class war issue, but others are gonna say it's insane to go around raising taxes in a recession."
Beck: "Class warfare, anyone?" On the July 22 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Beck launched an attack on the Obama White House, claiming that it is "following huge parts" of a plan "laid out over 30 years ago" by the Weather Underground. Beck suggested that the Obama administration is attempting a "fundamental transformation of our society," the first aspect of which is "a united front against imperialism for a new democracy built on a joint dictatorship of the working class and the poor." Beck then states, "Class warfare,anyone?"
Hannity: Is "a ton of class warfare rhetoric" going to be "all we see" from Democrats? On the July 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity and guest Newt Gingrich discussed President Obama's recent statement on extending unemployment benefits. Hannity criticized Obama for "referring to the GOP as being the party of the rich," while Gingrich claimed that Obama "seems to have a really unusual desire to divide the country and a really deep need to blame somebody else for his own failures, and as a result, you get this kind of Rose Garden comment." Hannity then suggested that "for the next 106 days we can expect a ton of class-warfare rhetoric, demagoguery as you just pointed out, and demonization, et cetera, character assassination, maybe some supportive groups playing the race card because they can't run on their record? That's what's the next 106 days are going to be like? This is going to be all we see?"
Thompson: Obama is "going to base this tax cut on rich versus poor." During a July 27 interview with Sean Hannity, Fred Thompson asserted that: "People are not as susceptible to -- to having their envy played upon as this administration thinks. They think that if they can -- can do something, even if it hurts the economy, that's going to take something away from a group that they're not a part of, the 2 or 3 percent, the way they like to put it, that that will go over well politically and they can win that, you know. Rich versus poor." He added that the president is "going to base this tax argument on rich versus poor. Going to give everybody -- everybody in America a tax cut, in effect, or let the tax cuts remain for them, except just two or three percent of the people. That just happens to be a third of our consumers and produce most of our jobs."
Varney: The administration is going to engage in "class warfare." On the July 20 edition of Hannity, Varney said that because the president "cannot point to [his] record and say it was a success," he's going to "change the subject and engage in class warfare."